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Republic of the Marshall Islands Biodiversity Clearing House Mechanism
RMI Office of Environmental Planning and Policy Coordination (OEPPC)

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National Legislation

Laws , Regulations, Policies in the Marshall Islands Affecting Biodiversity and Utilization of Biological Resources

Biodiversity Conservation
Environmental Planning and Assessment
Agriculture and Agroforestry
Water Quality
Waste Management
Local Regulations:
  • Republic of the Marshall Island Constitution (1979), Article X - preservation of traditional land tenure and titles system: no person with customary land rights may alienate or dispose of land without approval of traditional land owners;
  • Real and Personal Property Act, (section 13) - only RMI citizens, citizens' wholly-owned corporations and RMI government can hold title to land. Land can be leased for non-citizens;
  • Public Lands and Resources Act (1988 Title 9, Chapter 1, section 3) - all lands below mean high water mark belong to the government, with exceptions but no right to abuse, destroy or damage mangroves or land;
  • Land Acquisition Act 1986 - provision for government acquisition of lands for public use and the payment of just compensation.
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    Biodiversity Conservation
  • Endangered Species Act (Trust Territory Act, 1995, adopted as it by Nitijela) - protection of endangered and threatened species and subspecies, listing only:
    • Blue Whale, Balaenoptera musculus,
    • Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus,
    • Ratak Micronesian Pigeon, Ducula oceanica ratakensis,
    • Hawksbill Turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata,
    • Leatherback Turtle, Dermochelys coriacea;
  • authority to set up conservation and research programs for conserving endangered and threatened species;
  • authority to acquire land or aquatic habitats for the conservation of resident endangered or threatened species (according to Harding, no conservation programs or habitat acquisitions had been effected as of 1992);
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act 1990 - protection of dolphins and other marine mammals captured in the course of commercial fishing operations in eastern Pacific Ocean by flag vessels of Republic (in the area bounded by 40 degrees south, 40 degrees north, 160 degrees west);
  • Tourism Act 1991 - establishes a Marshall Islands Visitors Authority (MIVA) with power to identify and recommend likely conservation areas with tourism potential MIVA is empowered to work with any body responsible for land or marine protected areas.
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    Environmental Planning and Assessment
  • National Environmental Protection Act 1984 -
    • overview, part II -
      • study impact of human activity on natural resources,
      • prevent degradation or impairment of environment,
      • regulate human activity to ensure safe, healthful, protective, aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings,
      • preservation of important natural aspects of the nation's culture and heritage, while supporting variety of individual choice,
      • regulations regarding drinking water, pollutant, pesticides and other harmful chemicals, hazardous waste, preservation of natural aspects of heritage, other aspects that may be required;
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    • enforcement;
    • environmental impact assessments:
      • section 33 - all government agencies include a report on the environmental impact in all matters where there is or may be an environmental impact;
      • section 34 - when there is a proposed action, there will be submitted a detailed statement on environmental and cultural impact any adverse unavoidable environmental effects alternatives;
      • relationships between local short-term uses and long-term productivity irreversible and irretrievable impact on resources must obtain comments of interested public and government department involved, with the public given reasonable time given to inspect the statement (according to Harding, very few environmental impact assessments issued as of 1992);
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  • Coast Conservation Act 1988 -
    • protection and preservation of the coast from sea erosion or encroachment of sea in connection with the development activities of:
      buildings, depositing of wastes or other material from outfalls, vessels, etc. removal of sand, coral, shells, vegetation, sea grass, etc., dredging, filling, land reclamation, mining or drilling for mineral (does not include fishing) within 25 feet andward of mean high water line and 200 feet seaward of mean low water line;
    • permits for proposed development activity (according to Harding, not implemented as of 1992);
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  • Planning and Zoning Act 1987 - every local government to establish a Planning Commission and Planning Office for:
    • zoning according to land use,
    • preservation of natural landscape and environment,
    • identification of appropriate locations for recreational areas and parks,
    • building permits (according to Harding, zoning divisions and building codes not yet implemented as of 1992);
  • Draft RMIEPA Clean Air Regulations.
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  • Marshall Islands Marine Authority Act 1988 (revised 1997) -
    • part III - licensing for foreign fishing vessels;
    • part IV - activities other than foreign fishes, including development of local fisheries, licensing local fishing vessels, non-commercial fishing, fish processing;
    • section 3 (1) - forbids the taking of hawksbill turtles, sea turtles and their eggs on shore (and selling of turtle products);
    • section 12 - 15 areas for which Authority may make regulations, including conservation of Fishery Waters, protection of fish, operation of domestic and foreign fishing vessels, licensing, pollution, export of fish;
    • part VI - prohibits use of explosive, poison or other noxious substances to catch fish; prohibits possession of fishing nets or gear not conforming to prescribed standards; prohibits foreign fishing vessels from fishing without a license;
    • prohibits taking or artificially planted or cultivated sponges;
    • sets size and seasonal limitiations on taking of black-lipped pearl oysters;
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  • Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (Amendment) Act 1989 - prohibits use and possession of driftnets within the exclusive economic zone of RMI;
  • Marine Resources (Trochus) -
    • regulates the harvesting of trochus and license the taking in open season establishes an open season of no more than 3 months in any 12 month period;
    • trochus (an imported species) may be taken only by RMI citizens living in areas where they have the right to fish under customary law, or under MIMRA fishing license for trochus;
    • trochus must have a shell of at least 3 inches in diameter of base.
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    Agriculture and Agroforestry
  • Tobolar Copra Processing Authority Act 1992 - to plan, establish, manage, operate, and maintain all aspects of copra processing for RMI;
  • Animal and Plant Inspection Act - all animals and plants entering or transported within RMI are subject to:
    • inspection,
    • plant and animals quarantines and regulations,
    • cargo manifests,
    • emergency quarantine measures;
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  • Plant and Animal Quarantines and Regulations (revised 1999):
    • notification of regulated material,
    • disposal of garbage,
    • placement into quarantine,
    • samples, testing,
    • release of plants, plant material, animals, animal material permits,
    • seizure and destruction,
    • transport, storage, unpacking, treatment;
  • Export Meat Inspection Act - regulation of export meat and meat products:
    • methods of slaughtering,
    • postmortem examination,
    • labeling,
    • sanitation inspection,
    • control and storage;
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  • Draft RMIEPA Pesticides Regulations - importation, distribution, sale and use of pesticides:
    • RMIEPA may ban pesticides producing substantial adverse effects on human health and the environment;
    • permits required for sale and distribution and importing of restricted use pesticides by those other than certified applicator;
    • experimental use permits for conducting small scale laboratory or field tests of unregistered pesticide;
    • system to certify private commercial pesticide applicators;
  • RMIEPA Earthmoving Regulations -
    • control of all earthmoving activities, or any construction or other activity which disturbs or alters the surface of the land, a coral reef or bottom of a lagoon includes all excavations, dredging, embankments, land reclamation, land development, mineral extraction, ocean disposal, depositing or storing of soil, rock, coral or earth. Purpose- to prevent accelerated erosion, accelerated sedimentation, disturbance of potential cultural resources;
    • those engaged in earthmoving must design, implement and maintain effective erosion control plans, sedimentation control plans, cultural preservation measures, permits;
    • plowing or tilling for agricultural and building or adding to one or two family residences exempted;
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    Water Quality
  • RMIEPA Marine Water Quality Regulations - uses for which marine waters of RMI shall be maintained and protected:
    • specify water quality standards,
    • prescribe standards necessary for implementing;
    • achieving, maintaining specified marine water quality;
    • assure that no pollutants are discharged into RMI waters without treatment or control to prevent pollution, except when there is permit;
    • parts VII and VIII - strict marine pollution control requirements and oil pollution prevention measures;
    • prohibition against discharge of sewage from vessels;
  • Trust Territory Marine and Fresh Water Quality Standard Regulations - environmental oversight of fresh waters;
  • Trust Territory Public'Water Supply Systems Regulations - sets forth minimum standards and requirements to ensure that water supply systems are protected against contamination and pollution and do not constitute a health hazard a public water system is one that serves pipe-bome water for human consumption with at least 15 service connections or regularly serves at least 25 individuals.
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    Waste Management
  • Littering Act 1982 - prohibits the unauthorized dumping, throwing away, playing or leaving of refuse of any kind, or anything which tends to pollute, mar or deface
  • RMIEPA Solid Waste Regulations - establish minimum standards governing design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of solid waste storage, collection and disposal systems. Includes:
    • garbage, refuse or other discarded solid material;
    • waste oil, pesticides, paints, solvents, hazardous waste
    • permits required to operate solid waste disposal systems;
    • smaller private disposal systems require written approval of RMIEPA
  • Public Health, Safety and Welfare Act - sanitation section includes inspection and control of latrines and toilets, limiting accumulations of rubbish. Sanitation standards may be established for the halt of introduction of disease by insects entering on aircraft;
  • Trust Territory Pollution Control Regulations;
  • RMIEPA Toilet Facilities and Sewage Disposal Regulations - establish minimum standards for toilet facilities and sewage disposal to reduce environmental pollution, health hazards and public nuisance generally required that all public buildings and homes have toilet and sewage facilities, according to stated standards;
  • No building construction without first obtaining a permit;
  • Fire Control Act (1988 Title 7, Chapter 7, section 2) no fires for clearing land without authorization permit and proper control;
  • Bill of Rights - no taking of land except by Government and them only for public use.
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    Local Regulations
  • Bikini - Regulations of Local Government Council July 28, 1997.
    • no gill nets;
    • throw-nets/fishing rods only can be use to gather fish;
    • no commercial fishing within 12 nautical mile limit no dynamite, cyanide, drift-net, shark fishing;
    • hook and release of sport fishes (except if potential world record or other circumstances dictate it unwise);
    • all wildlife protected on and around Bikini, Aoemen and Eneu islands, including birds, nesting turtles and their eggs;
    • all turtles are protected;
    • all other natural resources preserved so they are not exploited.
  • Kwajelein - USAKA (United States Army Kwajelein Atoll) hence under United States laws and regulations, including C.I.T.E.S., Migratory Bird;
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  • Rest of the Atoll -
    • Ordinance No. 5 - (pig control);
    • Ordinance No. 83-05 (garbage collection fee);
    • Ordinance No. 86-20 (animal control);
    • Ordinance No. 89-42 (littering);
    • Ordinance No. 94-69 (waste disposal, sanitation);
    • pending 1998 - Marine Resources Conservation and Management Ordinance:
      • prohibition against use of electric shocking devices,
      • prohibition against abandoned or discarded gill nets,
      • prohibition against leaving a gill net more than 6 hours,
      • prohibition against the destruction of coral,
      • no fish traps except those of traditional design and 100% locally produced materials and located beyond 100 feet of mean high tide mark;
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  • Ujae -
    • Ordinance No. 83-1 (ship entrance fee);
    • Ordinance No. 83-9 (pig ordinance);
    • Ordinance No. 84-2 (prohibition against walking on reef between islands);
    • Ordinance No. 1985-3 (regulation of marine resources):
      • section 2. no exploitation, commercial or otherwise, of marine resources;
      • section 3. traditional subsistence use, exempted;
      • section 4. licenses for:
        • ocean trolling,
        • ocean bottom fishing,
        • ocean lobsters (only males with-carapace of at least 3 1/4 inches),
        • ocean shrimp,
        • lagoon bait fishing,
        • commercial lagoon entry;
      • section 5. reserve areas and species right to designate specified areas and specified species as off-limits to commercial exploitation in order to protect the subsistence food sources of residents;
    • Ordinance No. 1986-2 (waste disposal, sanitation);
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  • Lae -
    • Ordinance No. 1992-7 (ship pollution and dumping);
    • Ordinance No. 1993-3 (littering, dumping);
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  • Jabot -
    • Ordinance No. (unstated) (fishing license for nonresidents);
    • Ordinance No. 01-1994 (pig control);
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  • Jaluit -
    • Ordinance No. 1991-8 (pig control);
    • Ordinance No. 91-9 (dog license);
  • Wake - United States possession hence under United States laws and regulations;
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  • Utdrik -
    • Ordinance No. 87-8 (piggery ordinance);
    • Ordinance No. 87-12 (ship, yacht and other vessel entrance permit);
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  • Mejit -
    • Ordinance No. 94-21 (sanitary regulations);
    • Ordinance No. 94 - 23 (restrictions on taking undersized fish);
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  • Wotje -
    • Ordinance No. 1987-6 (protection against cutting of vegetation by non-land owners);
    • Ordinance No. 1987-8 (pig ordinance);
  • Aur - Ordinance No. 1993-05 (pig control);
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  • Majuro -
    • Ordinance No. 1986-2 (dog license);
    • Ordinance No. 1986-16 (littering);
    • Ordinance No. 1986-17 (garbage regulations);
    • Ordinance No. 1986-24 (protection against cutting of vegetation by non-land owners);
    • Ordinance No. 1990-11 (pig-fence ordinance);
    • Ordinance No. 1998-74 (pending as of June 15, 1998) - Coastal Fishering Resources Ordinance:
      • no commercial exploitation of coastal resources;
      • Coastal Fishering Resources Ordinance;
      • all non-traditional and non-subsistence vessels must be registered and pay a fee according to size of vessel and type of fishing;
      • prohibition against use of dynamite, cyanide, synthetic chemicals;
      • prohibition against harvesting or breaking corals;
      • prohibition against commercial harvest to Trochus except in season;
      • prohibition against fishing of all species of sharks and turtles;
      • prohibition against use of commercial aquarium trade;
      • prohibition sale of specified fishes, according to size of periods and commercial purposes: yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, wahoo, dolphinfish, barracuda, marlin, swordfish, sailfish, flying fish, frigate tuna, jackfish, rainbow runner, mackerel shad, groupers, sweetlips, snappers, emperors, squirrelfishes, parrotfishes, surgeonfishes, rabbitfishes, mullet, goatfishes, wrasses, rudderfishes, triggerfishes, flagtails, eels, fusiliers, bigeye, giant clams, trochus, conchs, turbans, helmets, octopuses, squids, turtles, lobsters, land crabs, coconut crabs;
      • prohibition against monofilament with mesh size less than 1.5 inches;
      • fishing of flying fishes by vessels moving easterly off the south coast of Majuro;
      • right to designate areas and species off-limits;
    • policy of June 1999 - ban on fishermen using scuba tanks and longnet together for fishing in the lagoon and on the reefs.

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  • local government ordinances
  • Elizabeth Harding 1992. Republic of the Marshall Islands, Review of Environmental Laws. South Pacific Environmental Programme, Apia, Western Samoa
  • National Biodiversity Team of the RMI, 2000.National Biodiversity Team of the RMI, 2000.The Marshall Islands - Living Atols Amidst the Living Sea/ The National Biodiversity Report of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. İRMI Biodiversity Project. ISBN 982-9045-02-1, St. Hildegard Publishing Company, Santa Clarita, CA, USA.
  • Crawford, Martha J., 1992. Republic of the Marshall Islands, National Environmental Management Strategy, parts A & B. South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, Apia, Western Samoa
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority 1997. Collected Environmental Regulations. Majuro, Marshall Islands
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands Nitijela 1999. Plant and Animal Quarantine Regulations, Majuro, Marshall Islands
  • 1997. Marshall Islands Marine Resources Act, Bill No. 88. Majuro, Marshall Islands
  • ____________ 1988. Marshall Islands Revised Code, Vol. I and II. Majuro, Marshall Islands
  • Smith, Andrew J. 1992. Republic of the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Profiles. FFA Report No. 92/78

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